Styles praises Hornchurch heroes
Tough to watch, says suspended captain
Hornchurch captain Elliot Styles paid tribute to his teammates after their promotion-clinching win over Lowestoft.
Extra time goals from Leon McKenzie and Michael Spencer saw Urchins to a memorable 2-1 triumph at a tense Bridge Avenue, earning Jimmy McFarlane’s men a place in Conference South next season.
And Styles, suspended for the play-off final, was a relieved man.
He said: “It did hurt when I found out I wasn’t playing. You feel responsible for the team and want to be involved in the big games.
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“But the boys are more than capable and it gives you an insight into what the manager goes through. I don’t like watching games!”
Reiss Noel came into the centre of defence in the absence of Styles and performed heroics alongside James Love, Rickie Hayles and Joe Anderson as the match remained goalless after 90 minutes.
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McKenzie broke the deadlock soon after coming off the bench, but Dean Sinclair levelled from the spot after Frankie Curley’s challenge on Andrew Fisk was deemed a foul.
Styles added: “Everyone stood out. The back four was fantastic and Reiss Noel, having not trained for two or three weeks, was fantastic.
“I also thought James Love, for a young lad, was also outstanding.
“I think we had the more clear-cut chances. It was a tense game, end-to-end.
“When we went 1-0 up I couldn’t see us losing, even when we conceded a penalty.
“It was a coming together of players and a big moment for the referee but I still thought we were the only team to score after that.”
The tie looked set to go to penalties when Spencer, another substitute, ran on to a fine pass from Lewis Smith to send an angled shot past Andrew Reynolds and inside the far post with barely a minute remaining.
“I was so pleased it was Michael. He’s the most honest player, he’s always on time, always at training and never moans. He just does his job,” said Styles.
“It couldn’t have been a better ending. He’s such a humble guy.
“We’ve got to build now for next year. We’ll enjoy this and have a few weeks off, then start again for next year.
“We’re looking forward to the challenge. It caps a great season for us and hopefully we can go from strength to strength.”